Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
Although it is Titus’ responsibility to teach the Cretan believers how to do life in light of Christ rescuing us from the penalty of our sins, Paul specifically states that
Titus 2:4 [the older women] can train the younger women…
It is within this relationship framework that younger women can learn to handle life’s challenges. Paul identifies several lessons that the young women of Crete will need help in both understanding and applying…and Paul recognizes that they will need the guidance of an older woman to get there.
Titus 2:4-5 Then [the older women] can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
An easy, knee-jerk response would be to start picking off individual items from the list and turning them into arguments. However, before we do that, it would be wise to consider why Paul is listing these specific topics for the Cretan women to learn and apply. Paul gives his reasoning at the end of the verse five:
Titus 2:5 …so that no one will malign the word of God.
Other translations render the phrasing as so that God’s message will not be slandered or discredited or dishonored. Paul is indicating that if the Cretan young women were to choose against the listed character traits, then there is the possibility that God’s message would be poorly represented or the reputation of the gospel could be damaged…even to the point that outsiders might ignore the good news of the gospel.
The heart of what Paul is getting at is this: that a young woman’s walk needs to match her talk. Her life should mirror the good news of Christ’s salvation, and to live otherwise would discredit God’s life-changing message. Remember that the Cretan reputation and accepted daily culture was to be always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. Living in accordance with the healthy teaching of the gospel would be clearly counter-cultural. A quick look at the opposites helps demonstrate this point:
What does a young woman communicate about the gospel
if instead of aiming to love [her] husband and children, she lives selfishly?
if instead of aiming to be self-controlled and pure, she lives reckless and immoral?
if instead of aiming to be busy at home, she is consumed by exterior passions?
if instead of aiming to be kind, she chooses to be cruel?
if instead of aiming to be subject to [her] husband, she undercuts her husband’s role and authority within the family unit?
All these lessons derive from one point of contention – a woman’s relationships, especially those within her own family. These difficulties find their root all the way back to Eve’s part of the curse. Adam and Eve’s sin introduced different, specific consequences into the world. One of the consequences that God told to Eve was that:
Genesis 3:16 Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.
Sin broke the natural order of what God had created all life to function under. Part of the curse clearly damaged a woman’s relationship with her husband – that from then on, he will rule over you. The effects of this curse (and Adam’s) have echoed throughout human history ever since. For the Cretan women to decide live in such a way that mirrors Christ’s love and Christ’s life would be absolutely counter-cultural. Her choice to love her family in this sacrificial, dynamic way would produce a life that would force those around her to recognize that the gospel she believes in is both revolutionary and life-changing.
Paul never says this list is easy. He never indicates that a young woman will get it right on the first try. But these choices are so important that Paul specifically states that the young women will need to be taught and mentored by an older woman in order to live them out. The young women aren’t supposed to “just figure it out” all on their own.
If you fit the category of a younger woman, ask God for an older woman to come along side and mentor you. You have a tough job, but you don’t have to do it alone.
If you don’t fit the category of a younger woman, think of those you know. Ask God to give them the desire to ensure that their walk reflects God’s impact on their lives.